Babylon Falling: A website of progressive graphic inspiration

Babylon Falling: A website of progressive graphic inspiration Babylon Falling is a great visual blog/website filled with scans of 60s graphic imagery, flavored by an emphasis on magazines and newspapers and the left-wing politics of the era. Site founder Sean Stewart has packed the site with Ramparts magazine covers, Black Panther Party newspaper pages, political posters, underground comics, book covers, photographs, and lots of cool ads from publications of the period. There's a heavy emphasis on Bay Area 60s left-wing politics, not surprising since Stewart lives out there and ran what he called "the 'anti-revolutionary bookstore' revolutionary bookstore" (Stewart also posts LP covers, photos, and ads from his other great love, hip hop music). 

The site was originally the website for the Babylon Falling bookstore that operated from 2007-2009. When the store closed earlier this year, Stewart started posting images from his personal collection on the site. Fans of 60s music, culture and progressive politics will love Babylon Falling and the cool, progressive curative sensibility that Stewart brings to it. We love it because it's one of the best and most fun websites around. (The cover of Scanlan's above is from August 1970, illustration by R. Crumb.)

We talked with Sean Stewart and asked him to share some of his personal favorites from Babylon Falling.

Babylon Falling 2.jpg
Clockwise from top left: Cheech Wizard, created by Vaughn BodeEmory Douglas illustration, originally appeared on the back cover of the Black Panther Party newspaper, July 26, 1969; cover of Ramparts, October 1965, illustration by Bernard Conrad.

Sean Stewart: The core impulse to collect this stuff comes from loving flea markets, estate sales, used bookstores, etc. and needing an excuse to go to them. Lately I've been spending lazy mornings with my wife, drinking coffee, reading articles from the magazines, and scanning the ads and illustrations in between. [Editors's note: we like the way that sounds!]

Babylon Falling 1.jpg
Clockwise from top left: Warren Hinckle was the editor/publisher of Ramparts and Scanlan's, the cover design is by Milton Glaser; Actor Rip Torn at a Panther 21 demonstration in NYC, late 60s, in a photo from Ramparts"Spice Up Your Life," a magazine ad for a record label's new LP releases; Ramparts cover, July 1966, illustration by Edward Sorel; an ad for "revolutionary" books in 1969.

Sean Stewart: I started seeking out the original radical papers from the 60s because there seemed to be a dissonance between how that decade was represented in the popular culture today and what I was hearing from people I would talk to who lived through and participated in the struggles of that era. I also have been slowly collecting ephemera from the US labor movement up to the 30s and from the Spanish Civil War, but mostly because I've now developed a habit that needs to be justified.

Babylon Falling 3.jpg
(Left): A poster for Popular United Action Movement (MAPU), a part of the Popular Unity (UP) coalition of the Salvador Allende government in Chile in the early 1970s; (Right): A tear-out guide to supporting the United Farmworkers grape boycott, printed in Ramparts, December 1974.

Sean Stewart: Ramparts and Scanlan's are hands-down my favorite publications from that period, and I find Warren Hinckle (editor/publisher of both) to be inspiring. Other inspirations from the era are Vaughn Bode's Cheech Wizard cartoons, Black Panther Party illustrator and art director Emory Douglas, Ron Turner from Last Gasp books and comics, Billy X. Jennings (who runs and has a ridiculous collection of underground papers from the 60s).

  • Mark Kaufman


    Thanks for the tip on Babylon Falling. Reminds me of what got me into this business in the first place. When I was a boy I would regularly sneak peeks at my uncle's stack of 1960s era progressive magazines because the graphics were a Hell of a lot more interesting than what was on offer from Boys Life or Highlights magazines. This caused my grandmother a great deal of worry which in turn caused her to roll up said magazines and thrash my poor uncle with them.

    Happy holidays.

blog comments powered by Disqus